Joe Breen, Director of Baseball Operations, RBI Baseball Academy
Doubleheaders are becoming more and more common in Youth and Babe Ruth baseball with the increase in AAU/Travel teams and tournaments. One thing I hear a lot is how different teams play from Game 1 to Game 2, both good and bad. Sometimes a team comes out in Game 1 with all sorts of energy and enthusiasm and then by the time Game 2 starts they come out with heads down and lack of alertness. In my opinion, one of the keys to both an individual and team’s success to play with energy and alertness over what could potentially be 6 hours of baseball (usually 20-40 mins between games) is nutrition.
I didn’t participate in a doubleheader until college so I was very unfamiliar with the process. I was a freshman pitcher at Stonehill College and it was our first spring doubleheader. About the 6th inning of Game 1 there was a very familiar smell in the air…burgers and hot dogs!!! Apparently it was a tradition at Stonehill that the senior parents would organize a cookout between our Saturday games. As soon as that first game ended and coach addressed the team, we headed out to the cookout and all I can say about this spread was WOW! There were burgers, hot dogs, meatball sandwiches, cookies, brownies, gatorades, granola bars, and so much more. At this time I was about 10lbs into gaining my freshman 15 and with little to no chance of pitching in game 2 I went straight for the unhealthy options. I may have had 2 burgers, a hot dog, and 4-5 cookies at least. By the time Game 2 started all I wanted to do was lay down in the bullpen and soak in my own gluttony.
That following summer I worked my rear off to get in great shape and learned a few things about nutrition and how to properly feed my body for performance. The following years, there were still ridiculous cookouts between games but I made healthier choices and my performance (and mindset) were both in a better place.
The title of this post is “What to Eat Between A Doubleheader”; however, it is crucial to have a 24-hour plan in place to maximize your between game meal. With that said, here is a sample of what to eat and when to eat it on a day that you have a doubleheader. Let’s just say you have games on Saturday at 11am and 2pm.
Friday night: Be sure to have a well balanced dinner including roughly 40% slow-digesting carbohydrates, 40% protein, and 20% fat plus drink plenty of water. Athletes should be drinking 48+oz of water each day and most players over the age of 13 should be taking in 60-120oz.
8am Breakfast (Options: Egg whites w/ vegetables, whole wheat toast, yogurt, fruit, cottage cheese, protein shakes, all-natural peanut butter) Be sure to get your carbohydrates from whole wheat/grain sources. Avoid: white bread, heavy amounts of cheese (like in an omelette or bfast sandwich), fatty meats such as sausage/ham. Be sure to have water with breakfast NOT FRUIT JUICE which is overloaded with sugar.
9:30am-10:45am Pre-Game (Warm-up, stretch, throw, infield/outfield, batting practice). Keep hydrating with both water and Gatorade. I try to water-down my Gatorade a bit if it’s not an intense pre-game but if it’s really hot and I’m losing a lot of sweat, I’ll use regular Gatorade.
10:45am Snack: This is a MUST as you will not have much of an opportunity to eat until between games and you want to make sure your blood-sugar levels don’t get too low which is when you start to lose energy, alertness, and overall enthusiasm. I would suggest either a low-sugar protein bar or a hand-full of mixed nuts, something that you can eat on the bench without causing a distraction. Be sure to get water as well.
1:00-2:00pm Between Games: Depending on when Game 1 ends and Game 2 starts you want to make sure you don’t waste time especially if you are starting Game 2. This is not time to lay down and socialize, IT’S TIME TO PREPARE! As soon as your coach dismisses you for the time alotted before next game begins, you need to do 3 things:
#1: Eat/Hydrate – My suggested between game snacks are a light sandwich (on whole wheat bread), piece of fruit, protein/granola bar, mixed nuts. My personal favorite choices are:
Sandwich: 1/2 Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Whole Wheat bread with avocado, lettuce & tomato
Fruit: Banana w/ All-Natural Peanut Butter
Protein/Granola Bar: Low-Sugar Detour Bar (30g Protein!)
# 2: Warm-up…Again! – You need to prepare your body after some down-time. Just some light jogging, high knees, butt kicks, carioca, arm circles should do the trick.
#3: Skills – Depending on what position you are playing in Game 2, you should either take some soft toss, take some groundballs/fly balls or if you are in relief, do some light throwing.
Hopefully this helps all of you weekend warriors out there who spend every weekend from April – July in the doubleheader/tournament circuit!